It’s Alive!

This morning, Darrell took care of final connections of our fuel system, raw water cooling, calorifier lines to our hot water heater and cabin heater, and exhaust system.  We filled her up with transmission fluid, engine oil, and coolant and then, with very little fanfare and the turn of a key, Mavis’ new engine roared to life!

I was immediately impressed with how quiet the new engine was.  Even with the engine compartment open she was a bit quieter than the old Westerbeke was all buttoned up!  And once I closed the compartment and let the soundproofing do it’s thing I was really happy!

Willow approves of the new engine.

We did some testing while tied up to the dock and Darrell gave our installation a final once-over and certified her good to go.  Working with Darrell Foster has been a real pleasure.  From our first handshake to completion of the job he has done everything he has said he would, when he said he would.  I find it incredible that he also completed the job well below his estimate even though I had added a new fuel filtration system which cost several hundred dollars and required additional time to install.  I can’t say enough good things about this guy.  He’s a rare gem in the marine service industry.

The wind was blowing around 20 knots and suddenly we had a working boat again.  I kind of wanted to head out and hoist the sails but it was getting late in the afternoon and we had a motor to try out so instead of sailing we motored out of the Whittaker Creek into the Neuse River and ran the engine at various RPM settings taking notes about the boat’s speed in the light chop.  Our old transmission had a slightly different gear ratio and our new engine revs considerably higher.  As a result the propeller currently installed on Mavis is not perfectly matched to the rest of the system but it works just fine.  Once we get to Florida I may investigate installing a more efficient propeller but so far, I’m pleased with the performance we are getting.

Happy Captain taking the new engine for a test run on the Neuse

All of the local marinas were flooded during Hurricane Florence and as a result just about none of them have working laundry facilities.  It was a minor inconvenience when we were only going to be here for a few days but we are going on three weeks now and running out of clean clothes.

Yesterday Cindy made another new friend while walking Willow.  Cindy got to talking with Karen who has lived here for 18 years with her husband Henry.  She’s an artist so they had lots to chat about but after talking for a bit, Karen invited us to dinner at their house and even offered the use of their washer and dryer!  What planet are we on?  Everyone here is just so happy to help each other out.  People go out of their way to stop and chat.  Cruisers walking down the street are routinely picked up by locals and dropped off at their boats.  After a few weeks here we already feel like locals.  This is such a great little town.  If they could just do something about those hurricanes…

Tonight we went to dinner at the Toucan restaurant at the Oriental Marina and Inn.  We were joined by Karen and Henry (the couple who graciously volunteered their washer and dryer) and their neighbor and friend, Steve.  Karen and Henry keep their sailboat on the creek where we are presently docked.  We enjoyed talking about Oriental and (of course) boats.  And after talking to Steve for a bit, I wasn’t too surprised that he too was a sailor with a boat on Whittaker Creek.  I like this town!

It’s hard to believe we will be leaving Oriental after all!  Things were looking pretty crappy there for a while and the future of our adventure was seriously in doubt… But now we can continue with our reliable new engine.  There is some weather coming in for Monday night into Tuesday or Wednesday with some more gale force winds possible.  The plan for now is to leave here tomorrow morning and do a short 5 hour run to Morehead City where we will pull into another marina for a night or two before continuing.

We’ve come to love Oriental in our longer than expected layover here so leaving will ironically be bittersweet.  I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough.  The people here are amazing.  It seems like almost all of the 900 residents of this little town are sailors.  Many of them, like us, came here by boat.  Some never left.  Others came back and bought homes.  We will definitely return to Oriental…  But we hope not until the spring on our way back north!

0.9 hours on the new engine.  Fuel and water tanks are full.  Just a quick provisioning run to the Piggly Wiggly in the AM and we are OFF!  Stay tuned.

Capt Frank